It has been a bad couple of days if you are a low-selling Marvel comic, as the company put the axe to a couple of series, while two others were brought to their planned conclusion. Word came down Tuesday that Marvel was canceling X-23, the story of the young, female clone of Wolverine, as written by Marjorie Liu. That same day, word came down that Jason Aaron’s PunisherMax would be coming to an end, with the rumor originally being that the series was canceled with issue #22. However, Aaron revealed via Twitter that the series was coming to the ending he had planned for the book, and that it was just coming to an end, not actually canceled.
Then on Wednesday, we found out two more series would be coming to an end, with the cancellation of Rob William’s Ghost Rider, and the ending of Black Panther: The Deadliest Man Alive (formerly BP: The Man Without Fear, and even more formerly Daredevil: The Man Without Fear). Again, many assumed Black Panther had been canceled, however, regular artist Francesco Francavilla said, also via twitter, that the series hadn’t been canceled, it was just coming to an end.
All this news comes on the heels of recent announcements by Marvel that they would be canceling Alpha Flight, which had started life as a mini-series, then changed into an ongoing series, until it was canceled at issue #8, essentially turning it back into a mini-series. Add in the cancellation of Destroyers, and of Nick Spencer’s Victor Von Doom mini-series (which was canceled before the first issue even came out) and you’ve got a lot of books canceled or ending in a short amount of time.
None of these endings and cancellations should come as much of a surprise. X-23 was the highest selling book out of this group and it was selling about 23,000 copies, with the other books coming in around 17,000 copies each. All of these books were at the lower end of Marvel’s sales charts, and it was bound to happen at some point. If you’re looking for other books that could be on the chopping block, I’d look at X-Factor, Daken: Dark Wolverine, and Avengers Academy (please note, I have no insider information as to whether these titles will be canceled or not). For fans of those books, hopefully this round of house cleaning will keep those books safe, at least for a while.
I can take solace in the fact that Aaron is ending PunisherMax as he wants to, as much as I would have liked to see it keep going, as it has been a fantastic series. The same goes for Black Panther, which is not a book I expected to enjoy as much as I have. You never like to see creators lose work, but the nature of the industry today is that low-selling books will eventually be canceled, regardless of their quality. The most we can do is enjoy them while they last and try to get as many people as possible to read them.